AND THEN THE VULTURE ATE ME
It was an odd spring into summer here this year, don’t you think? We had a rather mild winter (even for Tallahassee), then a warm start to spring. My gardens started out fast, kind of like a quarter miler hauling butt down the backstretch. But things slowed down immeasurably after that (I guess “rig” set in, as it often does, around the 300 meter mark), as we had a cold spring snap which was lousy for the garden but good for our running. Even well into May it was unseasonably cool and the humidity was incredibly low, and I appreciated every morning or evening that I was able to run. But for the wildfire smoke. But I could live with that, no problemo.
A couple of years ago I had this nagging pain in my left ankle. It persisted through heel lifts and ankle braces, aspirin and all other NSAIDS, regular icing, a course of prednisone (dumb, dumb, dumb), Ben Gay, and Tiger Balm, Traumeel, Blue Emu, arnica gels and other natural herbal treatments, physical therapy, massage therapy and a chiropractic adjustment or three. I even went to the Lourdes of all runners treatments, DMSO (just call me DMSO breath), all to no avail. I mean it really was no mystery but I was deep in denial. I knew what the problem was since I had it twice before and had it surgically removed twice before, and I had sworn to the high heavens that I would rather quit running than have this surgery another time, but that was still another lie I guess, because the surgery will lay open my left ankle again, on July 5, when the scalpel wielding sadist will remove another bone spur growing out of my heel and sticking me in the Achilles tendon with every step I take. Then six weeks in a lower leg cast, on crutches to progressive weight bearing, six more weeks of limping, maybe then a little walking and jogging to running and perhaps, just perhaps by next December I’ll see you out on the trails again.
In the meanwhile…I did try to “train through it” as we like to say. A pretty steady 50 miles plus per week for the winter into March and then a 50K in Mississippi. But after 25 miles of that I really had enough. It wasn’t my ankle either. It was my right knee. Oh, I didn’t tell you about that one? The one has been swollen like a little grape fruit since last August? Yes, that one. Actually, in any run over about 3 hours it really liked to SCREAM (!) at me. It was relentless. At least when it hurt a lot I couldn’t feel my ankle, so thank you God for some minor miracles of sorts. It hurt on the up hills, it hurt on the flats, it absolutely pounded on the down hills. An MRI confirmed a damaged meniscus in the right knee. How damaged? The knife wielding sadist said he won’t know until he gets in there and looks around (arthroscopically, I presume). So there are two surgeries planned for July 5, actually. If you need one I can get you in too, on the next gurney, these things are cheaper by the dozen so don’t be shy.
I can’t say that I’m not a little bit nervous about all of this. There is always a chance that the cure ends up worse than the sickness on these ankle surgeries because of the build up of scar tissue. And on the knee, the sadist says that there is a “90%” chance of success. On the other hand I could come out of these never running again, a result I cannot even imagine. It surely isn’t a death sentence…but then why does it feel like one?
So, I have put the surgeries off until July 5 although I’ve known that I have needed them since early April. I first have to take care of some unfinished business in the Blue Ridge, you understand. One more pilgrimage to Asheville to run in my favorite places on those special trails, once more up the big mountain called Pisgah, maybe across the shallow Mills River a few times on the cool shady trails that like to criss-cross it, and then a dance with the devil on the steep and winding Never Ending Road. A few more miles on the Mountain To Sea Trail and a killer run on the incredible Shut In Trail, it doesn’t seem to be too much to ask for. I’ll crawl them all if I have to.
So, no columns for a while. But I’ll be seeing you guys. On the roads and trails, as always.